New Recipes

Fried Radish Cake (菜头粿)

Fried Radish Cake: White Version
Fried Radish Cake: White Version pictures (1 of 8)

I am a huge fan of Teochew food, a southern China regional cuisine. In Southeast Asia, there are a lot of Chinese of the Teochew descent and many of us are familiar with the homey and delicious Teochew dishes. Today, I am very happy to have Ju at The Little Teochew as a guest writer. Based in Singapore, Ju is a talented home cook and a mother of three. The Little Teochew is a resourceful food blog with many Teochew, Chinese, baking, and everyday recipes. Please welcome The Little Teochew to Rasa Malaysia as she shares her scrumptious fried radish cake (菜头粿) recipe.

Rasa Malaysia is literally an icon in the flogosphere, while I am just The Little Teochew. So, it is a huge honour for me to be guest blogging today.

When Rasa Malaysia suggested a Teochew dish, I knew what I wanted to make – Chai Tow Kway (Fried Radish Cake or 菜头粿). If you live in (or have visited) Southeast Asia, you’d know that this is everyday street food, and a beloved breakfast/supper staple of many Singaporeans and Malaysians…

There are two versions of Chai Tow Kway – white and black. I am featuring both, although I personally live for the black version. ;)

I really enjoyed doing up this post because it brought back many happy childhood memories (hence the “old school” feel of my photos). I grew up eating the Chai Tow Kway at Siglap wet market…those were days when people would BYOE (Bring Your Own Eggs!) for the hawker to fry their Chai Tow Kway with, and ate this dish with toothpicks instead of chopsticks or forks. If you are a child of the 1970s living in eastern Singapore, you will remember this. Ah, nostalgia!

Anyhow, this recipe uses a very high ratio of radish to flour. As my late father would say, “the real deal”, where you get to taste the chai tow (radish) and not the flour. Feel free, though, to adjust the proportions of radish, flour and water. Unlike baking, there are no hard and fast rules to making this, and a little more (or less) here and there will not hurt. Do remember that increasing the amount of radish and water will yield a more tender texture, while increasing flour will give you more ‘bite’.

I hope you’ll enjoy making and eating this dish as much as I did!

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63 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. rachel

    love your pics.. love the typical coffee cup and and the steel made bowl. Char kuey kak remind me when i was in elementary… outside Phor Tay high school…. long time ago…… :)

  2. I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time. I bought the flour and the radish, but then I got too lazy. However, you make it look so simple that I’m going to make myself make this!

  3. Hi Bee

    Thank you again for this opportunity to guest blog for Rasa Malaysia. It has been my pleasure and privilege. I hope your readers will like this dish. Long live Rasa Malaysia! :D

    Warmest regards

  4. Ju!! So happy to be making a comment on one of your excellent dishes!! Believe it or not, I have actually tried my hand at making this dish, though my results certainly pale in comparison to yours and I have never been so lucky as to eat this on the street in Singapore or Malaysia. Sigh – someday. What cool childhood memories! I love how you’ve brought that to life here. Excellent guest post, my dear!

    • Trix my dear, I am not surprised that you’ve tried making this. You’re one of the most adventurous cooks/bakers I know of. Thank you for your compliments. I hope that when you do get to eat this dish in the streets of Singapore (at least), I would be the one bringing you out and chomping along! :D

  5. Jenny

    I love the black version too, especially if they are cooked almost burnt with the burnt aroma, the chai poh is a great addition.

  6. 黑的白的? 黑的! I am also a child of the 1970s living in eastern Singapore, and BYOE to a Char Kway Teow stall back in Joo Chiat :P

    Your Chai Tow Kueh, I would say, is the perfect bite-size for me. There are many variations to the Kueh-size as well. Some stalls are famous for “pancake style”: big pieces of the kueh bind by fried eggs in a round “pancake” vs some Chai Tow Kueh in really tiny pieces that I can’t even poke with the fork. :( ….yours looks perfect! I like it this way. BTW, Chai Tow Kueh is one of my fav hawker food :)

    • Jeanne

      Hi Little Teochew and Tigerfish -by reading both your messages make me missed Joo Chiat. Yes, I remembered we used to have black carrot cake for supper and it cost only 30 cts per packet. In NZ, we do not have such dish only the normal radish cake being served at Dim sum. The dish look yummy.

      • Hi Jeanne

        Kia ora! That’s why I really, really enjoyed doing this post. :) So many happy childhood memories. I was telling my children about the old lady at Siglap wet market, who used to cut the huge chunk of radish cake (with a string) for her daughter (or was it her daughter-in-law?) to fry in the giant skillet. The image is etched so vividly in my mind!


  7. Hi Ju, it is great to see your guest post. I had never heard of Teochew cuisine until I stumbled upon your blog. I like the look of the black version too.

  8. I grew up preferring the black version but with age, I’ve starting migrating towards the white one!

    Beautiful pictures of a wonderful dish, I feel so hungry looking at them…

  9. omg this looks awesome. I cannot stare at the photos for more than 5 seconds or I’ll crave for a plate of black carrot cake right away haha

    Ju – congrats on the guest post, love your blog =D

  10. LC

    Hi, I would love to try this recipe, can you please post a picture of the Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce? Thank you.

  11. luckyparadise

    I too live for the black one, living in NY and went back to Singapore last Aug with my husband. He had it for the first time there and was addicted to it. The best so far in Singapore is in Toa Payoh Lorong 1.

  12. I love to eat the black version when I was in Penang. In Singapore, I still prefer the white one. Ju, your FRC looks so mouth-watering! Two thumbs up!!

  13. kl_changs

    Brilliant recipe, Ju! The steps are so detailed and thorough. Thanks.

    You have inspired me to try my hand at it. We, Penangites, call it Char Koay Kark. Missing it very much.

  14. I LOVE char dao kueh, it’s the dish I miss most from home. I am also a huge fan of LIttle Teochew’s blog that I read regularly. I might just attempt this recipe and take some sweet black sauce with me the next time I’m back in Singapore!

    Thank you for sharing and both your photos are stunning, as always!

  15. Lilacz


    May i ask if kecap manis is the same as sweet sauce? Can i use kecap manis to make the black version? Any idea are there different types of chai po? The one i bought in Australia is very salty…maybe there are sweet and salty chai po, are there? Thanks very much!

  16. Mary Ong

    I have problem frying them last night, they tend to leave a skin on the frying pan when you try to flip the next side for frying, then you lose them out of control when the skin sticks on to the pan and get burn

    • Hi Mary, I know what you mean about losing control when flipping. It helps tremendously to use a non-stick skillet (with sufficient oil) and let the pieces really crisp properly before turning over. HTH! Thanks.

  17. Al

    I tried the radish cakes and am happy with the final taste – quite close to how I remember it. However, the consistency of the radish cakes was very disappointing. I followed your directions to a ‘T’. It turned out very gummy and just clumped together into a starchy mess when fried. I’m not going to give up – want to try it again. Can you suggest to me what I can do differently next time – more flour, less water? Thanks!

    • Hi Al, glad you tried it out. :) I assume you refrigerated before frying? It makes a difference. I always leave the pieces to brown and crisp thoroughly on one side before turning. And using a non-stick skillet (with oil) helps a lot. Having said that, if you want a firmer radish cake, why don’t you try increasing the rice flour by another 100g and see if the texture is what you are looking for? HTH!

      • Al

        Thank you so much !! Your suggestion to add more rice flour helped. Of course, I think I went a little too much and it was firmer than I would’ve liked but at least I know now to adjust flour and water to get the firmness I desire. BTW, I did not need the 250ml of water – the liquid from the steamed radish seemed enough with the additional flour. I also oiled the cake pan before steaming so that the steamed cake released much easier. I think I need to stop with the experimenting for now – the family is tired of having radish cake every weekend for the last 3 wkends!!

  18. Richard Wee

    Can you please feature a childhood favorite kueh of mine that our locals call “bee pow bee” or rice wrapped in rice. It is a flat peach shapped (tho) kueh with rice flour skin as in “chai kueh”, and glutinous rice with bits of dried prawns, mushrooms, halves of roasted peanuts, and thin tiny strips of fatty pork inside.

    I enjoy your recipes and being a very long retired person, have the time to try a few of your recipes. Great and keep them coming.

  19. Richelle

    This looks so mouthwatering! Do you know where I can get the Rose Brand sweet sauce in the US? Specifically California?

  20. angela

    Glad to find this receipe….but can i know why there’s bitter taste?? i heard that we should drain the radish dry and discard the water which cause the bitterness, is that true? pls help..need to make some for CNY

  21. CTurner

    Hi Bee,

    Could you advise where I could buy the Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce in the in NYC or online? My favourite Fried Radish Cake (we call them Carrot Cake in Singapore. I know, odd. Don’t know why.

    And, thanks so much for posting so many wonderful recipes, I cook because I can’t get most Singapore and Malaysian foods here in NYC, let alone authentic ones and I so appreciate that I can find so many recipes on your blog! Thanks again!


  22. Samantha

    Just made my first batch of carrot cake!! It was soo yummmm!! Thank you for the recipe! Quick question.. I have made 2 batches of steam carrot cake. Is it possible to freeze the second batch or do I have to cook them within the next few days? Many thanks!!!

  23. Bonnie

    Hi Bee,

    Your radish cake recipe is the best I have tried. Easy to follow and definitely a great success with all my London foreign friends who are vegetarians. It is my all time potluck party favourite.

    Thanks for sharing..

    boonie in London

  24. WC

    Am so glad my sis refer this recipe to me, simply love it. Though the texture of my carrot cake was not consistent. Some parts were soft and nice while some were harder. Any idea what’s the issue that causing it to be hard?

  25. Felicia

    Hi bee, can I know how to visit Ju her littleteochew blog? I used to browsing her blog freely but now it was kinda of blocked. I also tried to request but just cannot do so :(
    Pls advise and thanks.

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